A Rose as Sweet: A Columbus Doughnut Shop Owner Trades Corporate Burnout for Baking

Rose Dough Donuts offers creative flavors from its kitchen at 1400 Food Lab and supports the community, too.

Brittany Moseley
The Cherry Butter Cake doughnut (center), along with other varieties from Rose Dough Donuts

When it comes to doughnuts, it’s all about the dough for Katie Passo. It’s right there in her business’ name—Rose Dough Donuts—along with a nod to Passo’s great-grandmother, Rose.

Rose Dough sells three kinds of doughnuts. The first is brioche, which Passo describes as “a cross between a pastry and a bread.” Up next is the old-fashioned, a double-fried cake doughnut that’s “crunchy on the outside and moist and cakelike on the inside.” And finally, the French cruller, a light, hand-piped doughnut similar to a cream puff.

What tops the dough is just as interesting. Creative flavors like Blueberry Lavender, Tiki Mai Tai and Fresh Strawberry Habanero sit comfortably next to classics like the Sprinkle Brioche and the Chocolate Old-Fashioned.

A Tiki Mai Tai doughnut from Rose Dough Donuts, which Katie Passo launched in January 2022

Passo learned how to make her fried creations during the early days of the pandemic when she and her husband, Brad, were craving the sweet treats. At the time, the couple were living in Chicago, and Passo had recently left a career in corporate public relations. Feeling burnt out, she sought relief in baking and took a course with The French Pastry School.

“I just started thinking, ‘If I could bake every day, I think I would be happy,’” Passo recalls. In March 2021, she told her husband they should move back to Columbus in one year and start Rose Dough Donuts. The pandemic sped that timeline up and brought the couple home last July. Passo launched her company in January.

Rose Dough currently operates out of 1400 Food Lab, a commissary kitchen, with doughnuts available for preorder and pickup each week—typically on Saturdays. (You can also order a bottle or two of Ope! Cold Brew, a local startup, to wash down your doughnuts.) In addition, you can find Passo dishing up her treats at pop-ups around town.

Passo says she doesn’t have plans to open a storefront, but she aims to be an active member of the Clintonville small business community. She currently donates a portion of her profits to the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center. Recently, she teamed up with the agency to offer Donut Yoga, where 100 percent of proceeds will go to the organization.

“Their mission [is] neighbors helping neighbors, and that really struck a chord with me during these times,” Passo says of her partnership with the center. “It was really important to me to not only give back, but be involved.”

Follow @rosedoughdonuts on Instagram for updates.

This story is from the July 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.